Summary: Jesus could have appeared in royalty as He deserved. Instead He was born in an obscure village in poverty stricken surroundings.
I once read of a little boy getting his haircut while his Father waited. It was Christmastime and the little boy was mesmerized by the Christmas Tree beautifully decorated in the Barber Shop. Looking at the lights on the tree he asked his Father “Daddy, why can’t we have a Christmas Tree in our house?” His Father gently said, “Jewish houses don’t have Christmas Trees.” The little boy thought for a moment and then with a frown on his face replied, “Daddy, why did we have to buy a Jewish house?”
Jesus could have come to earth as He deserved. With fanfare, pomp and circumstance and all that royalty required, God Himself should have come down in all magnificent splendor to live with the common people here on earth. After all, we were looking for a King, weren’t we? Instead He was born in a simple stable on the outskirts of town. Can you imagine? Joseph and Mary had travelled for many, many days to make the trek to Bethlehem to register for the census, all the way from their tiny city of Nazareth some 80 miles away over rugged desert and uphill terrain. We’ve been there. We’ve seen the terrain. I’m not sure I could make that journey. Joseph was probably a teenager no older than 17 or 18, Mary, most likely a young girl only 13 years old. Mary was carrying a baby full term, can you imagine how hard it was, even if she had the luxury of riding on the back of a donkey. We know the Christmas story. We’ve heard it and seen it in Christmas plays for years. They tried to find a room at the Inn in Bethlehem, but the Inn had no rooms. The Inn most probably did. But who in the city of Bethlehem wanted these two young people, kids really, staying in their city. Mary was pregnant by Immaculate Conception; do you think the town’s people believed that? Do you think the town’s people were prepared that the Son of God would be born in their midst? Do you think the world was ready for this? We should have been. And for those who were prepared and believed, they must have been distraught over how Joseph and Mary were treated. But God knew, this was His master design. It would be a preview of His Son’s life - simple, unassuming, loving without ever the need for recognition, yet ultimately pushed aside for man’s desire. But shouldn’t this be how we live our lives as well? Simple, unassuming and loving unconditionally?
So without royalty and fanfare Mary and Joseph were trying their best to be comfortable in a tiny stable, a manger or perhaps even a cave filled with animals. The more I give this thought, how appropriate it was that Jesus was born in the presence of animals. First, God, His Father created them all and second, animals of all kinds are the least judging and the most unconditionally loving of all living things. I think the animals knew they were in the presence of greatness. I think the animals knew they were in the very presence of God. And so did Joseph and Mary, but what a strange way to save the world.
When you think of God’s master design, really put in place for us, Jesus came into this world the same way He went out of this world. No royalty at His birth, perhaps only a donkey, a cow and shepherds later. No royalty in His death, entering Jerusalem, the city that He loved, on the back of a donkey that was miraculously arranged ahead of time. Yes, the crowds yelled Hosanna in the Highest, but Jesus was riding on that simple donkey, not a flamboyant carriage pulled by 12 beautiful white horses. Perhaps God wants us all to enjoy the simpler things, without recognition or applause. To find joy in the small things and not the large, not the monumental nor the newsworthy.